County committee split on NY SAFE Act – Hudson Catskill Newspapers: News

| February 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:30 am

By Nathan Mayberg
Hudson-Catskill Newspapers

COLUMBIA COUNTY — The County Government Committee of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the repeal of the NY Safe Act passed by the State Legislature last month.

The committee voted 6-2 in favor, with supervisors Jesse DeGroodt, NOP-Chatham, Thomas Garrick, R-Gallatin, Ron Knott, R-Stuyvesant, Kevin McDonald, R-Livingston, Matt Murell, R-Stockport and Raymond Staats, D-Clermont voting in support. Voting against the measure were supervisors Edward Cross, D-Hudson2 and Ellen Thurston, D-Hudson3.
HH1 Diedrichs

The resolution, which would still need to be passed by the full Board of Supervisors, states that the NY SAFE Act will curtail the Second Amendment right of citizens to bear arms, and takes issue with the legislation for having been “approved with scant public notice, very little public debate or review by state lawmakers.”

The resolution adopted in committee states that the board believes “that portions of the act are necessary and will in fact increase the safety of the citizens.” However, the resolution doesn’t specify what portions those are.

The resolution goes on to state that “other provisions of the act are unnecessary, arbitrary, ill-advised and contrary (to) rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” It says that New York’s gun laws were already among the most stringent in the country before last month’s new law. It further states that the board “believes that an issue of this seriousness and effect should have been given a respectful and appropriate period of debate, review and consideration.” The NY SAFE Act was approved by the State Senate near midnight, hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented the bill with a message of necessity, requiring the bill be voted on within the next 24 hours. The State Assembly brought the matter to a vote the next day.

The resolution states that the law doesn’t address the concerns of residents who possess firearms for the purpose of self defense and that the law doesn’t address violent acts committed by criminals. It also states that the act “increases the stigma on the mentally ill.”

DeGroodt said he wasn’t comfortable with the language about the mentally ill and wasn’t sure what it meant. He wanted clarification on that passage, though he voted to move the bill forward to the full board in order for more discussion to take place. He said he supports expanded background checks on gun buyers.

“I’m not ready to move this forward,” said Thurston on Tuesday. She said that supervisors had agreed earlier in the month not to get involved in the matter. Staats said he was “a little disappointed” that the board didn’t act in opposition to the state law earlier.

DeGroodt said he needed to know more about the mental health language.

Cross said he thinks the resolution needed more work and input from the Public Safety Committee. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” he said. McDonald said “I’m totally in favor of repealing it.” Murell said that supervisors were acting after listening to their residents.

According to Board of Supervisors Chairman Patrick Grattan, the resolution was written by the County Attorney’s Office based on similar resolutions passed by neighboring counties against the state legislation. The resolution also had input from Columbia County Human Services Director Michael Cole, who publicly expressed opposition to the state bill last week. Parts of the bill mirror a resolution introduced earlier in the month by Supervisor Michael Benson, R-New Lebanon, which also bore similarities to the bills being passed by other counties in the state.

Grattan said the “focus shouldn’t be on weapons it should be on criminals.” He said he was opposed to the bill raising the class level of felonies for offenders, when it was the criminal acts themselves which deserve the tougher penalties. “What I’m very much opposed to is, (turning) somebody who doesn’t fill out a form, a criminal.”

The NY SAFE Act requires gun owners to renew their permits every five years. The law expands the definition of assault weapons, banning them, bans private gun sales without a background check by a gun dealer, and enacts measures that could lead to the confiscation of guns by those considered by mental health professionals to be a threat to others. Background checks are required on ammunition sales and new purchases of guns holding 10 rounds or more are banned. Guns are also not allowed to have more than seven bullets loaded in them.

County committee split on NY SAFE Act – Hudson Catskill Newspapers: News.

Category: NY & CT Firearm News

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